by Danny Garrett, Austin, Texas
The plot thickens and the narrative moves forward. To celebrate this fact in a big way, we have a big illustration kicking off this page. Letitia has crafted a nice little profile shot of our heroine on a grasshopper. Placed inside a gilded frame, the princess on her insect steed bravely sets out from her encounter with the spider (depicted on last week’s page.) Within the frame itself, the artist has created a sparse, but lively landscape over which Princess April bounds, as ever with her faithful companion the blue butterfly.
The watercolors in the illustration are light and airy, enhancing the sense of both flying and fleeing. We gain a strong sense of the adventure continuing.
The illuminations are really well spaced on this page. I think that is the chief reason that the ‘Great World’ did not get the full treatment as an illumination such as it did in its two previous appearances.
To do so, I think, would upset the light balance that the illuminations carry on this page. Squint your eyes slightly while focusing on the illuminations and you will see what I mean. If the Great World illumination had been as fully rendered as it was done earlier, it would upset this delicate compositional balance.
The other illuminations are all pretty much standard – crown, flying birds, shining stars and a blue butterfly that looks for all the world like a set of staring eyes. However there is one new illumination and it takes over the page. I am referring, of course, to the plumed and caped knight that incarnates April’s ‘brave’ adjective. As a semiotic flag, note the red cross across the knight’s shield. I’m convinced Letitia meant this to be a classic form of the English knight – right down to the red “Cross of Saint James” on a white field. This is exactly the color scheme of the flag of England.